2007 JULY - Seventy-Eight Systems Implement Entire Law - It’s been 18 months since the local option law, Chapter 157, was enacted, that allows local retirement systems to finally allow their accidental (work related) disability retirees, who are veterans, to receive the same vets stipend, up to $300 annually, that superannuation retirees have long received. As for the state and teachers’ retirement systems, their accidental disability retirees are receiving the same vets stipend under a separate law – Chapter 161.
<*><*>Under Chapter 157, a retirement board could accept both “Section 1,”
which meant the vets stipend would be paid prospectively or going
forward from the law’s acceptance and “Section 2,” meaning that the
stipend would also be paid retroactively or back to a retiree’s date of
retirement, or it could decide to accept Section 1 without Section 2.
The retirement board’s action must then be approved by the local
legislative body (for example, city council, town meeting, etc.) in
order for the law to be finally adopted by a retirement system.<*>Although it’s been a lengthy chore with some retirement boards, we can
happily report that there’s been widespread acceptance of Chapter 157.
Out of the 104 local retirement systems, 78 boards and legislative
bodies have implemented the entire law. <*>In these systems, veterans are not only receiving the stipend every
month now but also a retroactive check, which pays them the amount of
the stipend that they should have received when they first retired. Ed
Note: Under Chapter 161, for the state and teachers’ retirement
systems, their accidental disability retirees have received a similar
retroactive check.<*>Since they have no disability retirees who are eligible for the
stipend, Minuteman Regional and Blue Hills Regional School Districts
have not acted on Chapter 157 at this time. Marblehead and the Greater
Lawrence Sanitary District took no action on Section 2, since there
were no eligible vets when their respective retirement boards accepted
Section 1.<*>For veterans in 19 local retirement systems, they are being paid in
their current pension check but not back to when they retired. As the
accompanying charts show, this could have been the result of rejection
or inaction by either the retirement board or the legislative body.<*>For example, Attleboro had voted for Section 2 and the retroactive
payment, but the mayor vetoed it. In North Adams, the retirement board
accepted both sections, but the city council has yet to okay Section 2
and allow for the retroactive payment.<*>Unfortunately, there are a handful of systems where Section 1 has yet
to be adopted, and their veterans are not even receiving the stipend
now. In Chelsea and Springfield, the retirement boards accepted Section
1 and are awaiting approval by the city council and the finance control
board respectively. These boards wish to avoid the same fate that was
suffered by their fellow board members in Framingham where voters have
regrettably rejected that board’s acceptance of the law, both
prospectively and retroactively, at two separate town meetings.<*>“For boards, that have not adopted both sections, it’s important to
remember that the law had no cutoff date, so acceptance could be
reconsidered at some later date,” comments Legislative Chairman Bill
Hill. “Perhaps, at some point down the road, circumstances may arise
that will increase the likelihood of success. These veterans rightfully
deserve this special recognition.”